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MREs will include bottle of Tabasco hot sauce once again

Spc. Jeremy Armstrong, eats a meal, ready to eat at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, June 10, 2021.(Mississippi National Guard photo by Sgt. Taylor Cleveland)
March 18, 2022

The U.S. military’s MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) will once again include a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce, a Military Times report first revealed on Thursday.

While the popular food item has been missing from MREs since 2011, the Army’s Combat Feeding Division has decided to bring back the bottled hot sauce when the division discovered in 2019 that the pouch packaging that replaced the bottle is no longer available for purchase.

“No other commercially available pouch materials have been able to contain the hot sauce without pitting and delamination of the pouch material. As a result, a decision was made to revert back to the bottled hot sauce,” Julie Smith, Senior Food Technologist with the Combat Feeding Division, told Military Times.

Service members should start to see the little bottles of Tabasco in MREs soon — though a specific date was not specified.

Tabasco was first included in MREs in 1966 when Marine Walter McIlhenny – grandson of hot sauce tycoon Edmund McIlhenny – provided the military with a cookbook entitled “No Food Is Too Good for the Man Up Front.”  

The C-ration cookbook included a small bottle of Tabasco featuring waterproof camouflage packaging.

“The cookbook often called for ingredients we did not have, but the bottle of Tabasco sauce was always ready to aid any crappy 1968 C-ration dish,” said Vietnam War vet Chris Woelk, according to the National Museum of American History.

The U.S. military officially added the popular item to MREs in the 1990s, where they remained a fan favorite until they were replaced by pouches in 2011.

“Your product has always been in demand by troops in the field,” Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf wrote in a letter to the McIlhenny Company in 1991. “I have enjoyed spicing up my own rations with your pepper sauce for many years.”